Rangers 2 - 2 Celtic: Hoops earn cup replay after battling draw at Ibrox

Rangers and Celtic will have to replay their Scottish Cup fifth-round tie after an enthralling draw at Ibrox which saw four goals, two red cards and a feast of end-to-end action.

• Jamie Ness opens the scoring in spite of the attentions of two Celtic players

The home side took the lead inside three minutes from a wonderful strike by teenage midfielder Jamie Ness.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Kris Commons equalised on 17 minutes, before Rangers' Steven Whittaker scored from the penalty spot after Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster was sent off for bringing down Steven Naismith in the box.

Despite being a man down, Celtic continued to make a match of it after the break and, on 65 minutes, Scott Brown levelled with a curling shot to give the Hoops fans hope.

Rangers ended the tie with 10 men after Steven Naismith was sent off for a second bookable offence on 76 minutes.

The result means the Glasgow giants have set up a seventh Old Firm derby this season, with the pair also due to play in the Co-operative Insurance Cup final, in addition to their four Scottish Premier League games

El-Hadji Diouf made his first start for Rangers up front with Nikica Jelavic, who was back from injury for the clash at Ibrox.

Lee McCulloch missed out with a knee problem, while Kyle Lafferty - apparently struggling with illness - was named on the bench.

Daniel Majstorovic returned from injury for Celtic, while Ki Sung-Yueng was back in the team following his return from the Asian Cup.

Georgios Samaras - who netted a double in the last Old Firm game - had to settle for a place on the bench as Gary Hooper was given the nod as the lone striker.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rangers raced into the lead in the third minute. Diouf's corner was cleared by Majstorovic but fell for Jamie Ness to send a superb shot past Fraser Forster from 25 yards.

The Ibrox side then hit the woodwork when Jelavic's cut-back found Steven Davis and his effort crashed off the crossbar.

At the other end, Allan McGregor was called into action to block a point-blank shot from Beram Kayal as Celtic tried to haul themselves back into the tie.

Steven Naismith, who had earlier claimed for a penalty, picked up the first booking of the game for a challenge on Mark Wilson.

The Hoops were back on level terms after 16 minutes when Joe Ledley's cut-back was collected by Kris Commons who rifled into the back of the net.

Boosted by their goal, Celtic had another go and, this time, Hooper dragged his shot just wide of McGregor's right-hand post.

There was a tense moment for the visitors when Jelavic snatched possession from Forster in front of goal but the goalkeeper was just able to recover and smother before the ball trundled over the line.

Rangers reclaimed their lead in dramatic style when Forster fouled Naismith in the box and was shown a straight red card for the challenge.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Commons was swapped for Lukasz Zaluska but the replacement goalkeeper was unable to prevent Steven Whittaker coolly converting from the spot five minutes before the break.

Jelavic's name was added to referee Callum Murray's book shortly after the restart, before the striker hooked just over and then narrowly failed to stab home a Diouf cross.

Celtic threw Samaras into the action in place of Kayal in the hope he would repeat his goalscoring efforts from their last meeting with Rangers.

But it was Scott Brown who hauled Celtic level when he met Wilson's cross and curled a beautiful shot into the net from the edge of the area after 65 minutes, before picking up a foolish booking for an altercation with Diouf.

Rangers should have been back in front moments later when a full-stretch Davis just failed to connect with a Jelavic ball, with the gaping net at his mercy.

McGregor prevented Rangers from falling behind when he produced a superb instinctive save to tip a Samaras header over the crossbar from just a few yards out.

Ranger were then dealt a blow when Naismith was dismissed after 76 minutes when he picked up his second booking, this time for diving, after claiming he was tripped in the box by Majstorovic.

David Weir and Ledley were both cautioned after an altercation involving several players broke out in the final minutes, as both sides were forced to settle for a draw.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Celtic manager Neil Lennon said he was very pleased with his side's efforts.

"I thought we were absolutely brilliant," he said "Every one of the players.

"They set their stall out in the second half and played wonderfully well.

"They showed a lot of character and belief, scored two goals and created lots of chances.

"We knew at half-time that Rangers would sit it in and try to counter-attack and that would be our only danger.

"At half-time I said to them that there was no point in playing well and losing and that people don't remember the losers in Old Firm games.

"We controlled the game even when they had the penalty we were the dominant side and to come here and control the game is very pleasing.

"The amount of chances we created and some of the football we played was top class."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist said: "I'm pleased to be in the cup, if I'm being brutally honest - that's the initial reaction. It was a game that was incident-packed - it had everything.

"It certainly wasn't a dirty game but by the laws of the game there were two players sent off and I thought the referee was the best man on the park. I thought he had a terrific game.

"If there is such a thing as a neutral watching these games - which there probably isn't - I think they would have been entertained and excited today.

"We didn't play well in the second half and we had two unbelievable chances that we should have scored from and that's us not playing particularly well in the second half.

"I would never question our players' spirit. When you look at our lads over the last four years, they've been to cup finals, they've been to the UEFA Cup final, they've won championships because of our spirit, actually."